Why Knowing When a Senior Should Give up the Car Keys is Complicated
It’s one of the most difficult decisions we face as we grow older, and a highly sensitive issue for adult children to broach with their senior parents: unsafe driving, and the need to explore giving up the car keys. Driving a car, while offering a great sense of freedom and independence, can become risky due to a number of variables. And giving up that independence in order to remain safe can feel defeating.
On the other side of the equation, we need to take into account the latest research findings that show that giving up driving can lead to both mental and physical decline. Giving up driving, can lead to health decline through isolation, despondency, and reduced physical activity.
The study, as shared in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that seniors who surrendered driving became twice as likely to struggle with worsening depression, decreased physical functioning, and a decline in cognitive functioning. And even more alarming, older adults who stopped driving were more likely to die in the following three to five-year timeframe.
Senior researcher for the study and founding director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Guohua Li, explains, “This is a very complex issue. It’s a sensitive balance, and the pros and cons of not driving need to be weighed on a case-by-case basis.”
In some instances, reducing the amount of driving can ease the transition into relinquishing the keys for good. The senior’s doctor needs to be consulted first, of course, and with his/her consent, try restricting driving at night, in poor weather, and in busy traffic.
Dr. Marian Betz, spokesperson for the American Federation for Aging Research, highlights the need for seniors to continue to remain engaged in their community and to be as mobile and socially involved as feasible. Families are encouraged to seek out opportunities for seniors to engage in activities at the local senior center, exercise programs, volunteering, etc.
Hired Hands Homecare, providers of the senior care Novato families rely on, offers a practical solution to resolve the concern over unsafe driving: partner with us for safe, reliable transportation and accompaniment services, allowing seniors the ability to continue to be social and get out of the house, according to their own preferred schedule and desired destinations. Call us at (866) 940-4343 or contact us online to learn more, and to find out if our services are available in your area.